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A Journey Into The Cavernous - 98%

Polynometal, October 10th, 2015

I'm not entirely sure what the album cover to this masterpiece of an album is, but for the longest time I assumed it was staring down into a cave, with long, winding stalactites hanging down and meeting the floor of the abyss. The colors are dull, muted, and it seems to be intentional that it's near impossible to make out what's happening on this album cover. This is worth a mention due to the fact that there is no better way to describe this album, from the noisy, muted guitars, howled and echoed vocals, and abysmal, faded out nature of the production. There's a very concept and theme driven nature to the album and it's the reason for the success of the album "Rain Upon The Impure".

I'm going to admit to not have given any other album by Ruins of Beverast a chance, because this album is completely draining in itself. The best place to start, and the hardest thing to get around, is the production and mixing. Bass? Fat chance. Intelligible chords during fast sections? As if. Comprehensible lyrics or vocals? Not found here. With the popularity of bands like Portal and Ævangelist, this isn't an uncommon gimmick to an extreme metal album, but the catch here is, funny enough, how catchy this album is. Spare the abysmal atmosphere, there's moments to find enjoyable in this music. Instead of being made for just mood or strange songwriting, there's a clear sense of both the instruments and rhythms, and this very much comes out in the doom-y, choir filled, haunted parts of tracks like "Soliloquy of the Stigmatized Shepherd". Even through the production, you can comprehend the music with ease. A choral section not out of place for even a church emerges from the black, taking the lead of the mix. It's a refreshing blend of the muddied atmosphere of modern black/death giants, and the very unique beauty you can get from black metal. This, however, does not stop it from being draining as mentioned before. Eighty minutes of the bleak nature of the album really wears down on you, but this hindrance is a true blessing once one is conditioned to the album.

Vocals are, surprisingly enough, varied. Not just in the choral sections, but there is not a single song where the same vocal technique is used for more than a few minutes. Kept at a prime minimal, vocals are used more for background noise to break up monotony within each track, not for sing along or something to actively pay attention to. This can't be taken as a bad thing, as it's fully intentional, and does it's job as well as any other element of the album. Drums suffer the only flaw of the album, with the production mixing them far in the back, which wouldn't normally be a problem. This problem arises in the faster, more black metal driven sections, when the bass drum is shown to be as loud as the guitars, and more distracting than anything else. Thankfully, what would be detrimental for a black metal album is saved by the fact that this is not a particularly fast record, and drums are kept at a slow pace for a good portion of time.

During the drafting of this review, I realized why this album is hard to review well. The individual components of this work can be heard in other albums, but sound more cheesy than anything else. When all the parts of this album are together, there's a distinct atmosphere it creates, and does unlike any other work of black metal I've ever heard. This is an excellent starting point for the more dark, chaotic, and cavernous black/death/doom metal in the world. This is not an album for everyone, but instead, an album that must be listened to, it's fear be felt, it's echo be heard, and then for the listener to decide if they want to experience it again.